Colombian bishops welcome government backing down from gender ideology

Colombia Flag Credit Politcnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr CC BY NC 20 CNA 8 27 15 Colombia Flag. | Politécnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The Colombian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the government's announcement that it will not promote or implement gender ideology in the nation's schools, after massive marches of protest last week.

In a statement released Friday, August 12, the bishops thanked President Juan Manuel Santos for his invitation to dialogue and said that they "received with satisfaction the announcement of the National Government and the Department of Education that they will not promote or implement gender ideology in the country."

A meeting with the president and three bishops, which included Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez, took place August 11, after which the president made a public statement on the issue.

Additionally, the Department of Education published a statement in which they stated that neither they nor the National Government would advocate or put into practice gender ideology teachings.

The department's text states that "the United Nation's Population Fund's document on school environments was published on the United Nations web pages in order to be discussed, without authorization from the department, as was noted in the public statement of that organization. That document will not be authorized."

The document they referred to is the 93-page text entitled "Discrimination Free School Environments," developed within the framework of an agreement signed by the Department of Education and three U.N. institutions: the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund; the United Nations Population Fund; and the United Nations Development Program.

The cost of the agreement is more than $500,000. It was created in consultation with principals and teachers from the schools.

In their August 12 statement, the bishops of Colombia said that "we will follow closely and provide timely follow up to what the National Government has said in the August 11 statement, released by the Department of Education."

After reports that the Department of Education was preparing teaching manuals promoting homosexuality and suggesting that there is no essential difference between male and female, Colombians took to the streets in massive protest marches on Aug. 10. The protests took place in Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cali, Medellín, Ibagué, Bucaramanga, Tunca, Palmira, Popayán, and other cities.

Commenting on the marches, the bishops said that they see in them a strong support for the family unit as the fundamental cell of society and "an exercise by the parents of their right to be assisted in educating their children in accordance with their convictions and values."

They then emphasized the importance of respect "for every human being regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, national or family origin, language, religion or political opinion" and encouraged the creation of environments free of violence and discrimination.

Finally, the bishops urged parents to "assume with real responsibility the mission of being the first teachers of your children, according to the dictates of your conscience, and to actively participate in all the processes related to their integral formation."

In July this year, a similar occurrence took place in Panama. Proposed Law 61, which would have promoted sexual and reproductive education in the schools, was returned to the nation's health committee after a massive march by thousands of citizens in the capital.

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